Top 5 tips to prepare your car for the autumn

As the days get shorter and the temperatures dip, it’s a good idea to do a quick check of your vehicle to prepare for the colder months ahead.

Doing these checks may also prevent costly car repair bills and other additional expenses when it’s peak winter season.

Here are our top 5 tips to prepare your car for the weeks leading up to winter:

1. Check the condition of your wiper blades

Wipers

Often the wipers will get brittle as the rubber wears down, the result is that the wipers will not be able to clean the whole window surface properly and will leave streaks across the window. When it’s autumn, therefore, it’s important to get this checked, to ensure that your car is ready for those autumn showers! Don’t forget to check your windscreen washer fluid levels and top up in time.

You can read this helpful post on when to replace your wiper blades.

2. Tyres

Tyre pressure

Roads in autumn are bound to get more slippery as we expect more rain and potentially icy conditions. On top of that, the layers of dead leaves that trees will shed this autumn can add another layer of danger. Making sure your tyres are in good condition (including tyre pressure) is very important to stay safe on the road.

3. Check antifreeze levels

Antifreeze

Antifreeze prevents the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing and also helps stop corrosion and scale build-up. You can get a professional mechanic to check this for you and top up if needed.

4. Suspension

Suspension

The condition of the roads will normally start to deteriorate throughout autumn and winter. There will be more debris on the roads, and potholes will develop as roads freeze up. If you are unlucky enough to hit a pothole, make sure to check whether the suspension has damage.

5. Check the heating

Heating

As the days are getting colder ensure the heater system in your car is working properly. The heater is not just there to keep you warm but will also help you with demisting and defrosting the window. Check that the heater is blowing warm air and that all the different settings are working properly.

If you are not sure what is wrong with your car, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details. Or to place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a repair or service at your choice of time and date.

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5 Ways You Can Save Fuel In Your Car

While there is no confirmation of an actual fuel shortage by the UK government officials, car owners across the country have started stocking up on fuel, leaving empty petrol stations and making it increasingly difficult to get hold of any fuel.

As car owners grow concerned about the fuel crisis and driver shortage, it’s worth looking at 5 ways you can save on fuel in your car.

Remove the unnecessary weight

When you have a boot full of things you don’t need, your car has to work harder to drive, resulting in it using more fuel. Remember to remove unnecessary items from the boot if you’re not going to need them on your journey. Similarly, roof racks, or anything else that adds weight, can be removed if they are not used regularly.

Check your tyres!

When you drive with tyres not inflated properly, you consume more fuel than you should. Refer to your user manual or look on the inside of your car door or fuel cap to determine the right pressure for your vehicle.

Tyre ratings can also make a difference to overall fuel efficiency in the long run. The first diagram in the tyre rating chart (below) refers to how much rolling resistance the tyre has when the wheels are turning. The best rating is an A grade and G, the worst. If you do not cover great distances, this shouldn’t greatly concern you, but if you do a lot of miles, then the difference in the efficiency of over 7% between A and G can mean a lot!

Tyres rating

Check the news and plan your route

Keep in mind to check the local news or listen for the latest updates on the radio about road closures and traffic jams causing long queues. This will help plan your route better and potentially save fuel.

Combine short trips

Whenever possible, consider making one trip rather than several short trips. A warm engine is much more efficient than a cold one. Lots of cold starts will most likely use more fuel even if the total mileage is the same.

Regular service and maintenance

Carrying out regular maintenance and servicing can help improve the efficiency of your vehicle and bring down fuel consumption. Even something as basic as having your oil changed as recommended for your vehicle can positively impact overall fuel economy.

Car servicing can be booked with ClickMechanic within seconds! To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a service at your choice of time and date.

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Driving in the EU: what has changed post-Brexit?

Recently, the government announced new changes to the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated passengers coming into the UK from Europe and has also just made further changes to the green, red and amber list countries. Since travel conditions differ from country to country, gov.uk has the most current information and essential guidance for travel to Europe.

If you’re planning to drive on your next trip to Europe, it’s worth keeping in mind that some of the rules for driving in Europe have changed since Brexit came into effect earlier this year.

What are the rules for driving in the EU post-Brexit?

  • Are UK driving licenses still valid in the EU?

    driving license

    Most UK drivers can use their normal driving license to drive in EU countries. There are some exceptions where the driver might need an International Driving Permit. An IDP can be bought at Post Offices for £5.50.

    Individuals with only a paper license, not a photocard license, may need an IDP. Drivers whose licenses were issued from Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man may also need an IDP. Up-to-date guidance on driving abroad and IDPs can be found here.

  • What car insurance is required?

    car insurance

    Although it was a requirement post-Brexit, as of 2 August 2021, UK motorists no longer need to obtain an insurance green card before taking their car to EU countries (green cards provide a minimum level of third-party cover in case you get into an accident).

    All UK car insurance policies should provide minimum third-party cover to drive in other EU countries. However, check the details with your car insurer as the level of cover may differ from the cover provided in the UK. For example, many policies will have a limit on the number of days that you’re covered to drive in the EU.

  • Do I need to display the GB sticker?

    GB sticker

    If your number plate includes the GB identifier with the Union flag, you do not need a GB sticker. If your number plate has any of the following, you must display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle:

    – a Euro symbol
    – a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
    – numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

    If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a GB sticker no matter what is on your number plate. In addition to this, ensure you carry your V5C logbook with you if you own the car. You will need a VE103 form (Vehicle-on-Hire-Certificate) if you are taking a leased or rented car outside of the UK.

Our Vehicle Health Check (or Vehicle Safety Check) is a 28-point visual check of your car and can help identify issues on your vehicle prior to a long trip. A vetted mechanic can carry out the work at a location convenient to you and at a date and time of your choice.

 

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What are the most common issues with used cars?

Did you know that according to Auto Trader, used car prices have risen by a record 11% in June 2021? With used car prices expected to rise further, it’s even more important to ensure you’re making the right investment. A pre-purchase inspection by a professional mechanic can help identify issues on a vehicle by checking a range of working aspects of a used car.

In fact, when we looked at our data for pre-purchase inspections, we found that 50% of used cars will score poorly in at least one category during a pre-purchase inspection. Seeing the price increase means it’s all the more reason to get a vehicle thoroughly checked before buying!

Although different models and makes of cars can have unique problems, here are some of the most common problems you should look out for when buying a used car:

Electricals

According to our data, issues with controls and electrical components of the vehicles were a common factor that led to 23% of the vehicle scoring poorly on inspection.

As obvious as this may seem, it’s wise to check that headlights and other indicators are functioning properly. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check other features like the warning lights on the dashboard, the power windows, and the central locking.

Suspension and brakes

Our data found that 12% of used cars scored poorly on suspension and braking systems. If you want to check for potential suspension problems, take it on a drive on different types of road surfaces such as speed bumps and rough surfaces. If you hear rattles or strange knocking sounds, it could mean that the suspension needs attention. However, the best way to ensure there are no issues with the suspension and braking is to have a trusted mechanic do a thorough inspection of the vehicle.

Battery

With cars being left unused for prolonged periods of time during the last 18 months, it is likely that battery health has suffered leading to battery problems. Batteries do not like being left uncharged as the cells inside disintegrate and lose their capacity. The battery may recharge to 12.8v but the actual power is significantly reduced.

Wheels and Tyres

We found that 23% of used cars scored poorly with regards to wheels and tyres during the inspection. Issues such as alloy wheel damage and uneven tyre tread are things to look out for and maybe costly to put right.

GETTING A PROFESSIONAL INSPECTION

ClickMechanic can help with a Pre-Purchase Inspection, with three different levels of inspection to suit your needs, starting from £53.68. During a pre-purchase inspection, the technician will conduct a thorough, unbiased review of the vehicle’s condition which can help give you an understanding of whether you’re getting good value for money. A pre-purchase inspection report will be sent to you which thoroughly outlines the condition of the car from exterior parts to crucial components of the engine and exhaust system so you can be confident you’re making the right purchase.

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Most Googled questions about catalytic converter thefts

Most Googled questions about catalytic converter theftsDid you know that catalytic converter thefts now account for 3-in-10 thefts from private vehicles in the UK? You might have noticed the spike in these thefts in recent local news updates. The thefts are generally due to the steep rise in prices of metals such as rhodium and palladium used in the production of catalytic converters.

ClickMechanic’s Mechanic in Residence team answers some of the most Googled questions by car owners about catalytic converter thefts:

Most Googled questions about catalytic converter thefts

  • What should I do if my catalytic converter has been stolen?

    • The first thing you should do is register the crime with the police, either via calling 101 or the online service. It’s also worth informing your insurance provider about the theft as it may be covered depending on the insurance policy. After that, if possible, take photos of the underside of the vehicle and the damage that has been caused during the theft.
    • Secondly, it can be that one or two exhaust sensors (known as Lambda sensors) have been stolen with the catalytic converter. These are screwed into the unit and these will need to be replaced as well. Make a note of any wires that are hanging down and relay this information to whoever you request a quote from.
    • In most cases, the repairs can be carried out by mobile mechanics, who, due to the volume of these thefts, are adept at carrying the work out “in situ”. Alternatively, you may need to arrange and pay for the recovery of the vehicle to a garage if you do not have cover for this in place so this cost needs to be taken into account.

  • Can you drive if the catalytic converter is stolen?

    The simple answer is no, you cannot. The catalytic converter is in front of the exhaust silencer, so the noise inside the car is not only deafening but also a major distraction to the driver.The other consideration is that the driver is knowingly using a vehicle on a public highway that would fail the emissions test (and the police can stop you, test this and fine you) and you may even get penalty points for driving a vehicle that emits a noise over 74db.

  • What cars are most targeted for catalytic converter theft?

    Any vehicle that has an underbody catalytic converter is at risk of theft. Cars such as the Honda Jazz, CR-V and Accord are particularly vulnerable along with some older BMW models and Toyota’s Prius and Auris.

  • Can you protect cars from catalytic converter theft?

    Whilst there are theft deterrent parts that can be applied to the vehicle, the majority of these only slow the thieves down by a short period of time, they can often lead to further damage repair work required on the vehicle. There is advice about parking in well-lit areas, areas with CCTV etc, however, the thieves expect this and are not put off by it. One thing that deters thieves is parking the car on a slope! This might sound a bit left field, but thieves do not like jacking a car up that is on an incline as it can easily move and come off the jack, trapping them underneath.

If you’re looking to book a repair, ClickMechanic can help. To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out any work at a date and time of your choice.

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5 Ways To Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint

5 ways to reduce your car's carbon footprintWe can’t ignore the fact that all vehicles have an impact on the environment, big or small, petrol or diesel or even electric. Whilst we may not be able to immediately change the way we get around and switch to a greener alternative, there are a number of ways to limit your vehicle’s environmental impact.

We look at 5 things that can help reduce a vehicle’s impact on the environment.

  • Smoother driving

    Driving aggressively with sudden braking and rapid acceleration can decrease fuel economy, shorten replacement intervals for a number of parts and could cost you an extra £600 annually. Smoother driving is not only better for the environment but is also lighter on your pocket.

  • Don’t overload the vehicle

    Avoid overloading your vehicle when not needed. The heavier the car, the more fuel it will use.

  • Check your tyre pressure

    Research suggests that motorists in the UK are wasting £246 million a year on fuel by driving on dangerously under-inflated tyres! Under-inflated tyres can increase the vehicle’s rolling resistance and with it, fuel consumption as the engine (or electric motor) will need to work harder to maintain the car’s movement at a consistent speed. Having the correct tyre pressure is key to optimise rolling resistance and ensure less energy is wasted. Details of the required tyre pressures will be in your vehicle’s handbook, but can often be found on a sticker on the driver’s door or inside the fuel cap.

  • Carpooling

    Carpooling is a great way to save money while also being a greener alternative. In addition to car-sharing services such as BlaBlaCar, carpooling with friends and neighbours can help reduce our carbon footprint. Government guidelines on car sharing during COVID can be found here.

  • Take the car for a service?

    Maintaining your vehicle regularly is not only good practice for the safety of you and your family but can also be safer for the environment. Depending on the type of service, technicians will check and replace the fuel filter, spark plugs, air filter and fluids such as the engine oil that will significantly improve the performance of a car, overall fuel economy and lower the vehicle’s emissions.

With increased awareness about emissions and their impact on the environment, many car manufacturers are now advancing in green technology. Hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are much more efficient and claim to produce lower carbon emissions. If you have an electric vehicle or are thinking about investing in one, it’s also important to consider the source of the power, i.e. if it is renewable and sustainable for the environment.

If you’re looking to book a service, ClickMechanic can help. We provide three levels of car service – interim, full and major service. To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a service at your choice of time and date.

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Car Safety Tips That Every Driver Needs To Know

Car safety tips that every driver needs to know

Car safety is something that should obviously be focused on by everybody, but it seems
that it is always taken for granted. It’s actually a scary thought. 1.35 million-deaths-per-
year-scary.

Yes, you read that right. According to the World Health Organization, approximately
1.35 million people per year die in road crashes. The saddest part is that the majority of
what causes road accidents are preventable such as car maintenance and driver
competency. If you yourself are a driver, then you must be alarmed by these facts.

The best way to prevent and reduce the number of road accidents that happen annually
is to start with yourself. Educate yourself and do what you need to do to stay safe and to
keep others safe. This article will give car safety tips that every driver needs to know to
inform with emphasis on road safety.

Perform safety checks

Regularly check your car even before you get on the road. Proper car maintenance not
only assures safety but also extends the lifespan of your vehicle. Here are the simple
car safety checks that you have to work your way through regularly before driving:

● Check your tyres
Never overlook the condition of your tyres. Your tyres are the only things that provide
cushion between your car and the asphalt. Schedule regular checking of your tyre
pressure and tyre tread depth. If you see that you need to replace them, get to your
trusted and nearest tyre shop to purchase and install new ones.

● Check your battery
Have your battery tested as part of your routine safety check. Drained batteries are one
of the most common causes of breakdowns, which is an inconvenience that you don’t
want to encounter, particularly if you have a schedule to follow.

● Check your lights
Inspect both exterior and interior lights of your car at least once a month and refer to
your owner’s manual to understand the use of lighting systems in your car. Brake lights
are integral to your safety, so make sure that you don’t leave those out. Thoroughly
check your lighting and replace bulbs if necessary.

● Check your engine oil and other essential car fluids
The engine oil lubricates, cleans, cools, and protects your car engine. It’s important that
your oil and oil filter are changed according to your car manufacturer’s guidelines.
Aside from your engine oil, you must also keep an eye on your car’s coolant level,
power steering fluid and brake fluid, as they also play an important role in your car’s
functionality.

● Check your windscreen wash and wipers
Check your windscreen washing fluids and top up as needed. Also, take a look at all
window cleaning and demisting features and see if everything is working properly. You
don’t want anything blurring your view, especially during the rainy season.

Tips for safe driving

The simplest tips are often the best ones when it comes to driving safely. Here is a
refresher of what some of these tips are:

● Buckle up
Seatbelts save lives. It’s a cliche, but it’s true. This cannot be stated enough. Always
wear your seatbelt regardless of the speed that you are driving.

● Focus
Never be distracted by anything while driving. Always stay alert and stay focused on the
road at all times and be wary of what other drivers around you are doing.

● Obey traffic rules
Pay close attention to the traffic signs and the stoplight. Respect and obey all of them
and always use indicators when turning or moving between lanes.

Final thoughts

Yours and other people’s safety starts from you. Ensure that your car is in good
condition and always drive safely. Don’t be a statistic by being a better car owner and
driver.

Guest Writer: Rosette Monell

Rosette has a knack for anything DIY, but not only that,
she also knows a lot about chores and stuff as
she spent her younger years immersed in books about
hardware tools, equipment, and tires. As a child, she
once dreamed of establishing her own hardware & tire
store. Her career options may have changed, but today,
she continues to write so passionately about her first
love.

5 ways you can show some love to your car

Blog post header imageIt’s Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re single or taken, you’re probably not forgetting about your #1 Valentine who’s there for you during all the important journeys of life.

In celebration of our love for cars, we thought of sharing some TLC car care tips that may extend the life of your special one. Your car will love you for it!

5 ways you can show some love to your car

  1. Check how it’s doing
    Just like your loved ones, your car also needs some attention from you. Spend a little time with it checking the tyre tread, tyre pressure, wiper blades and fluid levels such as oil, water and anti-freeze. Here’s some essential checks you can do.
  2. Make it feel beautiful
    Most of us might not be using our cars as much as before so a car wash (or even a vacuum of the interiors) could be the perfect gift for your vehicle. Added tip: keeping your car clean and tidy and in great condition will also help reduce depreciation!

  3. Get rid of the distractions
    Take some time out to clear all the unnecessary clutter – your relationship with your car doesn’t need any distractions. You could also install a new car air freshener to spice things up!

  4. Be gentle with it
    Sometimes a hug is all we need to feel better. The best way to extend a warm hug to your car is to go gentle with the brakes and a lighter foot on the accelerator.
  5. Treat your car to a special date
    If it’s been a while since your car last had a full service you could show some love by sending it for a full service. You can book a mechanic on our network to come to you so your car gets the love it deserves.

If you are concerned your vehicle may have become unsafe, unreliable or something has happened to it, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details.